Researchers looked at 300 million species of mollusc that lived in the Atlantic Ocean over a period spanning roughly five million years and found that those with a high metabolism were more likely to follow the fate of the dinosaurs and disappear from the planet.
More sluggish organisms likely needed less energy and food, Lieberman told The Guardian, enabling them to survive in times of scarcity.
The study focused mainly on bivalves (which include oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops) and gastropods (which include snails and slugs), partly because our fossil records of both types of animals is unusually detailed and partly because there are still a lot of living examples to study.
"We wondered, 'Could you look at the probability of extinction of a species based on energy uptake by an organism", said Luke Strotz, the lead author of the study.
The team tested the motivating factors behind the survival of species by looking at the evolution of basal metabolic rates (BMR) over time in fossils and now surviving species of gastropods and bivalves collected from the from the Atlantic Ocean.
"These results say that the metabolic rate of an organism is a component of extinction likelihood", Stotz, a postdoctoral researcher at KU's Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum, points out.
The study titled "Metabolic Rates, Climate and Macroevolution: A Case Study with Neogene Mollusks" can help conservationists predict which species are at high risk of extinction when resources go low due to climate change. So, it's another tool in the toolbox.
The authors used mollusks for their study because there's ample data about living and extinct species, including metabolic and extinction rates. The exploration could enable researchers to foresee which present-day species are most in danger of eradication. This also means they were more likely not to go extinct if they were spread out over a larger area of the ocean. "Some of the next steps are to expand it out to other clades, to see if the result is consistent with some things we know about other groups".
"There's some justification, given the size of this data set, and the long amount of time it covers, that it's generalisable". You no longer need to make excuses and worry about those who complain about your lifestyle. "Can it apply on land?"
Its name is Latin for "sleepy small-head" as it glides around for hundreds of years in the frigid waters, taking in the sights and generally chilling.
"It seems that evolution promotes survival of the most leisurely and apathetic beings - the slower your metabolism is, the more chances that your views will last a long time".
Danny Longman, a biological anthropologist at Cambridge University, says the findings have "intuitive appeal" as it shows that organisms that survive and prosper are the ones who are able to use more efficiently the energy they capture from the environment.